Foto Credit: Francia 24.com
Panama became the first Latin American country to join China’s ‘belt and road’ infrastructure development program, as part of 19 deals signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit last week.
The new agreements cover a wide variety of sectors, including trade, infrastructure, banking, tourism, representing the rapidly developing relationship between the two countries. The latest announcements and President Xi’s visit were the latest steps in a whirlwind of deals since Panama formally launched diplomatic relations with China last year.
The Belt and Road initiative is China’s program to develop transportation infrastructure projects and trade investments around the world. Panama’s participation should deepen cooperation between the countries in many key areas, Xi said in a statement.
The China-Panama relationships “carries huge potential,” Xi said.
As part of the new deals, China is making a variety of strategic investments in Panama, which should have a far-ranging impact on the economy. And Chinese companies are already involved in some of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects.
A few weeks ago a Chinese consortium was awarded a $1.4 billion contract to build the much-anticipated fourth bridge over the Panama Canal. The contract was formally announced during Xi’s visit.
“Panama is moving ahead in its relations with China and without a doubt, this [bridge] project that begins its construction today is part of that message and trust between the two countries,” Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said.